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Wi-SUN Alliance releases smart city and metering protocol standard

The Wi-SUN Alliance has announced the launch of its Field Area Network (FAN) specification, aimed at linking smart meters and smart city tech to cloud deployments. The Smart Ubiquitous Networks (SUN) will allow adopters to hook their deployments up to the application platforms that allow the data analytics that garner an awful lot of value from the data backhauled to the cloud – as part of the Internet of Things.

Back in November, we spoke to Wi-SUN chairman Phil Beecher about the Alliance’s support for new spectrum set aside for the standard – which is based on the IEEE 802.15.4g spec. A peer-to-peer, self-healing mesh, the protocol is well-suited to deployments of meters and static smart city infrastructure like street lights, traffic equipment, and weather stations.

The move is pretty significant for the smart grid sector, but as with all standards announcements, we have to wait and see which bodies and businesses throw their weight behind it and bring it to market.

The alliance itself focuses on defining subsets of open standards, and has been working on the FAN, as well as a home area network implementation (HAN). The non-profit entity has a long list of influential supporters, including promoter members Analog Devices, Cisco, Omron, Murata, the National Institute of Information and Communication Technology, Renesas, Silver Spring Networks, Rohm Semiconductor, and Toshiba. Other prominent names in the other tiers include Access, Atmel, Duke Energy, EPRI, Fujitsu, Hitachi, Itron, Landis+Gyr, Mitsubishi Electric, Panasonic, Pacific Gas and Electric, Semtech, Texas Instruments, and Trilliant.

Following the November spectrum news, the Alliance announced the launch of its advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) WiFi spec, which gives adventurous developers the option of using a home’s WiFi connection to backhaul the data generated by a smart meter.

Beecher said that “the release of the Wi-SUN FAN specification comes at an ideal time, with utilities and municipalities worldwide needing the best solution for integrated applications designed for smart grids and smart cities. Using the FAN delivers the performance they require and a wide choice of interoperable products and solutions from multiple vendors.”

That FAN gives its adopters access to an IPv6 compatible protocol that supports 6LoWPAN, UDP, and TCP, as well as the 802.1x security that many developers will be very familiar with. The standard also supports the 6LoWPAN header compression feature, which address a notable concern from the industry that the 128-bit IPv6 header involved chews up precious battery life.

With the new FAN release, Wi-SUN’s Director of Standards, Bob Heile, said “as the industry need for smart city and robust, secure IoT deployment grows, it becomes increasingly necessary to move away from closed, proprietary protocols to solutions using open internationally recognized standards. The Wi-SUN FAN solution is ideal for these applications, providing multi-vendor interoperable, multi-service and secure IPv6 communications.”

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